Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hunting and gathering

I am SO excited. Tim and I went hunting today for winter berries and it was the first time I've found some. Every year before my holiday open house I gather greens, hemlock, pine, holly...and usually buy some winter berries from a florist. Tim and I found a swampy area with plenty for our display. It was a nice break in this beautiful 50 degree day...from the glazing marathon I've been running. By Tuesday I will have fired 5 kilns in 7 days...tonight is the fourth electric firing this week...two bisques, two glaze loads...and Tuesday will be the next firing of the gas kiln. I will unload the pots Thursday and load them into the car - warm and ready for our show. Join us in Wakefield for our 9th annual Deep Blue holiday open house with friends Marianne Snow and Mary Taggart. Saturday, December 5th from 10am-4pm. 4 Salem Street, Wakefield, MA.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Busy, busy...

Well - thanks to those of you who visited me at the Arts & Industry open house last weekend in Florence, MA. It was my first time doing that show and it was a big success. I also enjoyed the opening of the Cup Show at Artisan Gallery last Friday night and ran into lots of friends - including Lucy Fagella.
Now I'm quite busy in the studio finishing some smaller pieces for my next big gas firing and also glazing lots of dinnerware for orders. My next show will be my annual holiday open house with Marianne Snow and Mary Taggart in Wakefield, MA. Deep Blue is December 5th!

The holidays are just around the corner! My Greenfield showroom will be open December 8-22 for those who are local - and a $ donation to the Food Bank will get you 20% off any one item. Please call before you stop by - my December hours will be flexible on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays or Fridays. 413-772-3141

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I've just come back from a day away in Concord, MA for a Warren MacKenzie workshop, lecture, and exhibit coordinated by Lacoste Gallery. This show is in conjunction with a traveling exhibit that has taken two years to come to Boston and opens at the Fuller Museum in Brockton, MA tomorrow. I plan to attend the Fuller in late December after my show season is over...but today offered a wonderful little dose of inspiration to take back to the studio. I want to wake up early to trim the two dozen bowls waiting for my attention and am SO happy daylight savings will offer an extra hour to spend in the studio.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Passing it on

Check out the Asparagus Valley Potters Guild blog for a recent post about my apprentice Tanner and my interest in teaching others how to maintain studio equipment and keep costs down. No need to hire an electrician for simple kiln repairs - you just need someone to show you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Farmers' Market

I am SO happy to be back at the Greenfield Farmers' Market! This is my fourth year as a vendor there and it is so nice to have the season begin again. Every Saturday from 8am-12:30 we have a great community of farmers and artists selling their stuff! Very often we have live music, cooking demonstrations, or some reason to just hang out for a while. Please stop by and visit.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Can't forget my lucky shoes...

Ode To My Parents

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for helping me in so many ways. I love you. Here are some photos of the showroom set up for the Pottery Trail!

Monday, April 20, 2009

12 Hour Days

The Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail approaches and we have received some great press about our event:The Springfield Republican,
The Boston Globe

Meanwhile, I've been putting in some long days getting ready for the show and just finished loading the kiln. This will be my second glaze firing - and I'm excited of course to see the results! I will fire Tuesday and unload Thursday. Stop in during my open studio this coming weekend to see what I've been working on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Small is good

I'm working hard at filling the gas kiln with another firing of "test" pots next month. Small is good! I have small buckets of glazes we're testing and need small pots that will fit in those buckets. Here are some little bud vases that will get some additional decoration tomorrow. We're hosting the 5th annual Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail April 25 & 26 - so I'm busy busy busy with making new work for the show.

I've recently shown some of my glaze tests from the first firing to older and wiser potter/friends of mine who have been able to tell me A LOT about the firing and things to try differently for next time. Thank goodness for the network of potters who have been very generous with sharing knowledge and skills with me these first few years of my business.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


We just unloaded the first glaze firing this morning and have spent a while reviewing our notes and glaze combinations. Lots of interesting new glazes to explore and some that are a bit boring. There seemed to be plenty of reduction - too much there were some problems with black coring (iron and other organic material getting trapped under the surface of the clay) or it could have been from my bisque firing going too quickly and not allowing that matter to burn out. We'll be looking at these pots for a while longer to get ideas for the next firing! Very exciting!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

cone 10 down

I fired the kiln today to cone 10 for the first time. It took 12 hours (but I was trying to take it slow). The kiln was very even in the end, meaning the cones in the top and bottom peeps fell at pretty much the same time. Though I was really nervous today - I think everything went well. At around 4pm I called upon Tom White who kindly drove over from Northfield to hang out with me and the kiln for an hour or so. Not too heavy in terms of reduction, but I'll see the results when the kiln is cool on Thursday.


Surely I'll have some interesting "seconds" for the annual Artspace Seconds Sale this Friday and Saturday at the Greenfield High School.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ready and waiting

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday glazing pots for the first glaze firing...which I planned to load today. Now I'm just waiting for the snow and wind to die down a bit so I can get the pots loaded (hopefully) this afternoon. I'll plan to light the pilots late tonight and fire tomorrow! So - off to make cone packs and review my notes about reduction firing cycles before morning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The first bisque

My friend Tom White (potter in Northfield, MA) suggested I do a bisque firing in the new kiln first. This was excellent advice and it offered me a chance to play with the burners and get to know the kiln a bit before trying a reduction firing.

  • Nothing blew up!
  • The cones were quite different front to back.
  • The "bag wall" or row of baffle bricks needs to be extended along the whole bottom shelf.

Tanner has mixed up about 9 or 10 new glazes during the past month - and I plan to fire her up again in about a week. I'm running another bisque in the electric kiln tonight and hope that will be enough to fill the gas kiln with test pieces. The new kiln has 24 cubic ft. of stacking space, where as the electric kiln has only 7 cubic ft.

Monday, February 9, 2009

That wasn't so bad

4:15 am - woke to light the first burner and stayed up to check on the kiln often. Seems like everything is in good working order. A few problems came up - needed to replace the battery in the thermocouple and adjust the left pilot which kept blowing out once I lit the first burner. But there's nothing like a little problem-solving before breakfast. The kiln is now cooling after reaching cone 06 at 10:15 am.

I had a terrible dream that I had built a complicated wood kiln with climbing chambers that were accessed by lots of tiny stair cases and I kept getting lost while trying to stoke the kiln myself. It was such a relief to wake up and realize I just had to turn on a burner.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Kiln is ON

Sunday night at 6pm and the pilot has been lit for my first bisque with the gas kiln. I spent lots of time reading the manual today - adjusted the door brick, repaired some broken brick and played with the burners a bit before loading the kiln. "Screw Fear" is the motto I'm sticking with this year - so I just lit her up and came in for a bowl of chicken soup. I've checked on the pilot a few times and it is doing just fine. I'll light the other before bed and wake up early to turn on the burners.

What is really kind of cool is that I went up to Lyme NH to meet Barbara on February 9th 2008 - to look at a kiln she wanted to sell. Exactly one year later I am firing her for the first time. It seems meant to be.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Capped and Caulked

We finished a few things on our punch list today in this balmy 41 degrees - and hope to fire the kiln up with a bisque firing in the next few days! Tim finished building the box that supports the weight of the chimney and got the cap installed. We will try and caulk all the seems tomorrow with high-temp caulk if we can find the caulk gun and I'll be reading the kiln manual the rest of the weekend to re-fresh my memory before we fire her up! There are a few adjustments to make tomorrow on the kiln door brick before I try and load the pots.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Glaze tests

I've spent several weeks reading through John Britt's book, The Complete Guide to High-Fire Glazes and have selected about ten glazes to try in cone 10 reduction. Tanner is my fabulous apprentice who has been on board with me here at the studio since last August. In exchange for studio time, clay and glazes - he works for me a few hours a week. After a little instruction - he has become a master glaze mixer and has been mixing up our new glaze tests in 3,000 gram samples. We always wear a respirator while mixing glazes - but not so much for photos.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The hardest part

That's my husband on top of the snow covered roof...highly motivated to get the chimney pipe connected to the kiln. Seems 30 degree temperatures are warm in comparison to the past week - and though we had hoped to cut through the roof in late November (before the snow was a factor) we never quite made it and Tim just decided to go for it today! The sawzall died. The drill bit broke. The screws snapped in half. In general - nothing was going our way...but we managed to get the support in place and the metalbestos double-walled pipe is now supported from above - without the weight of it resting on the kiln hood. We've covered it with a tarp for the night - and will finish it up after another trip to the hardware store this week.

I whipped up a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies to show Tim my love and gratitude - and he is now thawing out and napping in front of the wood stove.

I'm so lucky.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Everyone needs a thnead

So I just finished making a dozen adorable soap dishes as I am trying to use up the last of my Laguna #310 clay which won't be going in the gas kiln. I have a few orders to start the year and will still be firing the electric kiln in order to fill those.

I'm feeling torn between needing to make 50 test pieces fast for the new kiln...and wanting to produce the highest quality work I can make. Wanting to try new things this year - more celebratory pieces like candle holders and cake stands...and needing to make lots of mistakes before I get there.

Good thing my next show will be the annual Artspace Seconds Sale in March '09.